Our question this week was:Dr. Debra,
I was given my Yorkie when my schnauzer died May 2006, when he was 4 months old. Training him, because he is very much of an alpha dog, is not the easiest thing in the world. What irritates me the most is the high-pitched barking. He is trying to tell me something, I know, but I can't play with him all the time. He likes to bite my ankles (I don't like that either) when we are going to go out in the backyard and also likes to chew.
He has enough things to chew on but has chewed up 3 throw rugs, 2 legs on my rocking chair, drywall on the walls, electrical cords for my vacuum cleaner, massager, lamp cord for living room, hamper in bathroom and other various things. He has a crate to sleep in when I am at work and sometimes I allow him out of the crate at night (not always). We walk every night before bed because I won't let him in the fenced yard at night (coyotes) but in the AM, he chases the squirrels, birds or whatever moves while I get ready for work. He barks and rings the hanging bell on the door handle when he wants to go out and that is ALL THE TIME! Listening to the Dog Whisperer has not helped me with all of his problems.
Hi – thanks for your email. It sounds like you are dealing with a few behavioral problems. First and foremost is his dominance. Secondly is chewing. I don't envy your problem as it sounds like a very difficult and frustrating situation.
First, let's talk about the dominance. To me, the barking, biting at your ankles are signs of dominance. I'd recommend that you take him to a trainer that will work with you on his dominance. Obedience training may also be beneficial. He needs to understand that you are boss which he doesn't believe at this time. I have several very good articles by Dr. Nicholas Dodman on our site that deals with this exact problem. Dr. Dodman is a behaviorist at Tufts University College of Veterinary Medicine and is an expert at dealing behavioral problems in dogs. To read Dr. Dodman's article, go to Aggression in Dogs
Secondly, let's talk about the chewing. That is also a difficult problem. It sounds like you have several chew toys. I'd make sure they are relatively indestructible as ingestion of any toys can lead to a gastrointestinal foreign body
that can require surgery. My favorite toys are Kong brand toys in which you can hide a kibble or food.
I'd give tons of positive reinforcement when he is playing with an "approved" toy! When he is not, a firm "no" and withdraw of your attention is reasonable punishment. This goes for any behavior he does. When he is quiet – give him praise. When he is not, withdraw your attention.
I also have a good article on dealing with chewing. Go to Chewing in Dogs
Behavioral modification and dealing with the aggression should help both of these problems.
Also, one final point – it is really important that everyone in your home be consistent as you work out these problems. If one person does one thing and another person does something different, it can be confusing to the dog. Everyone in the home needs to be top dog.
I hope this helps.
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